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3.9.2007
Siku Arctic Extreme Challenge - Greenland 2007 - Jodi

Jodi var me­ Ý Siku Arctic Extreme Challenge ß GrŠnlandi sumari­ 2007 og sendi einum af ═slendingunum sem tˇk lÝka ■ßtt, ■essa skemmtilegu grein ■ar sem ═slendingarnir koma a­eins vi­ s÷gu. Ůetta var eftirminnileg kona sem hefur keppt Ý svona keppnum sem atvinnuma­ur hÚr ß­ur fyrr svo h˙n veit hva­ h˙n er a­ tala um. 

Siku Arctic Extreme Challenge - Greenland 2007

Greenland, nestled in the Arctic Circle is a place of excessive beauty, rugged mountains, glaciers, and icebergs, any racerĺs dream location. A place that left Team Explorerĺs jawĺs hanging open, and grinning from ear to ear to be fortunate enough to experience a place like this. For 5 days we ran, climbed, biked, and canoed in this fascinating place. Although we did not get to see any of the mythical Trolls, and most fortunately didnĺt get eaten and chased by the giant polar bears that roam the coast in search of weary adventure racers.

Day 1

In the small village of Tasilaq, the teams congregated with their canoes inflated and ready to make a run for it down to the rocky beach. After a brief sprint to the put in, teams maneuvered slowly in their efforts to hop in the canoes, no one wanted to start off the race falling into the iceberg laden waters. Although later we heard tales of the Brits making 3 swims in the fjord, oh those poor lads!! An hour of full on paddling landed us across the bay and into a mountain running section. After a lot of uphill grunting and rocky running we hit the base of a technical mountain climb to the summit of Polhem, a climb that had my butt quivering like a rabbitĺs upper lip. From the start of the climb till our return to the base the race organization had the clock stopped, so racers could make the climb without pressure of being on the clock and keep safety in mind, it also allowed everyone once they reached the summit to sit down and enjoy the incredible panoramic view of Greenland in all its splendor, most teams carried small cameraĺs to keep this great memory for a lifetime.

After summiting we clambered down the mountain, got back on the race clock and took off running back to the canoes. We hopped back in the boats and took off paddling back to Tasilaq to finish the Day 1 stage in 3rd overall, and 1st Coed. It was an epic day in Greenland.

Day 2

We started at the same location as Day 1, and hammered out 5 loops of paved steep hills in the village onto sandy, rocky single track that was quite challenging and took about 4 hours or so of sweat and a bit of swearing on my behalf in the technical sections. After dropping the bikes it was back on foot for a long rocky mountain running section, which consisted of bagging 3 peaks in the surrounding area. Greenland consists of mostly uphill or downhill with technical footing and heaps of boulders and thick scree rock, we adopted a saying ôGreen is Goodö so if we saw a green patch anywhere thatĺs where we tried to travel to avoid the heavier rock areas, although there were very few green patches! All the climbing is well worth it though, reaching the peaks is challenging but the rewards of the views are more than well worth the effort, and I am quite thankful that we were carrying a total of 3 cameras between us. After bagging all 3 peaks in an all day effort we ran down the mountains and back to Tasilaq in 3rd? or 4th place for the day and 1st coed team. It was an awesome day in an awesome place, followed by heaps of great catered food, a shower, a nice smooth Jack Daniels, and a good sleep, only thing missing was a good man. Ha-ha. We drifted off to sleep with excitement about the next 3 days of racing, yahoo the start of the glacier sections was coming up and the expedition stage.

Day 3

Back at the start line we once again mounted our trusty mt.bikes, for a mt.bike time trial, where the teams split up in pairs of twoĺs. First off a pair of two, then on their return the remaining two members were to do the time trial. Neal and I took off with the pack, back on the single track and then on a real fun dirt road to a turn around area and back to the start line to tag Chip and Dave for their wicked assault on the time trial. The boys hammered the section putting us back in 2nd for the start of the mountain and glacier sections. We took off out of Tasiiliq thru the rocky terrain running. Then wuhoo we finally got on to Mittivagkat glacier, roped up, threw on the crampons, and started our adrenaline filled day by continuously jumping over crevasses.

There is something quite enthralling about jumping over crevasses or lightly trying to cross a snowfield that you know there is a gapping hole right under you just waiting to swallow an adventure racer. All four of us got our turn at plunging thru a snow field or not quite making the full jump crossing of a crevasse, and letĺs just say when you bang the ice it hurts. We were wearing shorts so our legs got a bit slashed up on the sharp ice. The scenery was incredible and hitting a few peaks was great with stunning views. Later in the day we finally popped off the glacier with the Icelanders just trailing us. We all took off running for the Base Camp. To get there we had to cross a rather wide and waist deep freezing cold ice laden river. The boys suffered shrinkage, I just suffered.

When we popped out on the other side with the Icelanders in tow our legs were frozen solid. My brain said run, my legs said I wasnĺt moving till a thaw occurred. Our teams took off running with frozen appendages, no giving an inch, we were trying to kill one another to get to the dayĺs finish line first. At some point we all just grabbed hands running and decided we would finish in a tie. It was actually a rather cool moment running the last Ż mile arm in arm with them. We had a rather awesome evening at a camp the organization had set up in the middle of nowhere next to the sea of icebergs with the glacier behind us. Each team had their own tent, a full bar-b-q was up and going with seal, whale, salmon, and all the fixings, and beach volleyball for anyone who had energy left. A duo of singers performed and Siku vodka was handed out. The setting was incredible, I was amazed I was actually enjoying this all at an adventure race.

Day 4 and 5 and the start of the expedition stage (for others it was Day 4, 5 and 6).

We woke up to sunshine, actually the sun really never sets here at this time of the year so one never really had any clue what time of the day it actually was. We all lined up on the beach with our canoes, the shot gun went off and we ran down the beach to plunge into the bergy water once again. After the canoe, we spent the entire day glacier running or rock running in some incredible scenery, up down, up down, up up up down down down, jump a crevasse every few feet, and so on. It was great. The previous day I twisted my ankle and the rocky running finally took its toll and something gave way a bit with swelling and a rather nasty stabbing pain every step. I loved where we were racing and had to let my brain fight the pain and try to enjoy what I was doing which was a bit questionable at points. Up at one of the checkpoints on a mountain top above one of the glaciers we met up with Erwin, also known as the Erwinator, he was doing the photography for the event and also previously had done and won the race as a soloist. From that point he traveled on with us to get some great photos, he was quite fun to have with us. He also told us not to travel on one side of the glacier as the Danes had taken the lower route and two of the fellaĺs fell fairly far down in a crevasse losing 45 minutes of time to do a rescue on their team mates who were dangling down in the hole into the abyss. We had no problem going the higher and a bit longer route with that in mind, who wouldnĺt.

After we ran off the glacier, the Icelanders showed up again, they were like our shadow. At this point the boys took turns trading off my pack to get some of the weight off my ankle as the terrain was just pure rock hell for hours and hours on end. We crossed some incredibly beautiful striated rocks and climbed up a cool glacier run off area, and yeap far off in the distance we would spot an Icelander trying to keep up. Eventually we came down thru a pasture of blue flowers, rocks, and small streams to the put in for another canoe section. The guys got the canoe ready and off we went for what was supposed to be a relatively short paddle in the late evening hours. The icebergs were incredible on this section and we were envisioning what all the shapes were, we were enthralled, so enthralled that we paddled right on by the checkpoint and canoe take out that was hidden behind a giant beautiful iceberg. So we paddled way past our take out, and yes the Icelanders followed us.

Eventually we figured out we had gone WAY to far and turned back. The return paddle was super cold with a heavy head wind and reverse tide, we passed the Icelanders who had also turned around but who were going so slow into the inrushing tide and wind that they were going backwards, they looked totally defeated and this would be the last time they would catch up to us on the course. After what seemed like forever we found the checkpoint, and we were FREEZING cold and on the hypothermic side. Our extra mileage on the water ensured that two teams had passed us, boo. The boys got the boat situated and I went up the hill to get moving and warm, and access my ankle, the buggar was pounding and I wasnĺt so sure it was going to stay in one piece for the next long long foot sections on the glaciers and rocks. We trod on keeping pace and finally got warm again. We crossed some really spectacular glaciers and managed to catch back up to the French team who had passed us when we had done the extra paddling. After all that we wound up back at the canoes for our next paddle, there was Cup of Noodles there for us, wow wee, we were almost out of food so that was just awesome. Off we went in the boats, there was a lot of singing going on and farm noises, everyone had a small bit of sleep monster happening so goofy theme songs like Brady Bunch, Flintstones, and a bit of Elvis and Neil Diamond were our revivers.

Once we got out of the boats we did some hairy climbing up a lot of loose scree stuff, then some coasteering and rocky running and scrambling to get to the next checkpoint, which we wound up way up high above on a cliff, and the checkpoint was way way down below, which had us scrambling down some hairy stuff to get to. From there we headed off up thru rocks, and cliffs, and up and down and up and down to the next glacier. Then after the final glacier we hit a snow field that led us down the mountain. Dave hopped on and glissaded down the mountain, all the boys followed and made a nice butt sled track on the snow and ICE. I sat down in their tracks, well that was stupid, I should have made a new track, I sat in the packed track and took off like hell fire down the ice and couldnĺt dig the axe deep enough to slow the momentum down. I saw Neal down below just where the ice field ended with a giant pile of boulders, holy crap I needed to slow down. I rolled over and was frantically trying to self arrest, wishing I had gloves and long pants on cuz the ice felt like it was tearing me to shreds. My self arrest attempts were quite lame, especially with the nice speed I had built up on the ice. Neal tried to grab me to slow me down which helped a bit, but to late, nothing like hitting the rocks at an accelerated speed, but at least I stopped, my ankle was pissed off at me.

From there we bolted and jogged back off the mountain to the canoe and the final paddle to the finish line in Tasilag. Seeing the village way off in the distance was a welcome sight. It felt great when we crossed the finish line, I was soooo happy my ankle held it together long enough that we could finish the event as a ranked team and with such good results under the circumstances. We crossed the line to be greeted with warm smiles, sodas, photos, and special friends. A final finish of 4th place overall and 1st overall coed team. This event was by far the most scenic and beautiful race course I have ever raced on, so guaranteed I will be back in Greenland once again in 2008!!!

Special thanks to Anders Steinbecken and Hans Christian Florian (the race directors) for putting together the best race in the world, and all the staff and media who helped with the race, there is no race quite near as special as this one, you are all awesome! Also to Erwin and Toby Reinthaler for showing up on the race course to take their incredible photos and a give a word of special encouragement when it was most needed, it wonĺt be forgotten. And to Salomon for footwear, packs and support, all which got used hard at this race.

 

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